Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pesticides and ADHD -- What's next?

Once again, I repeat myself. It seems to be happening a lot lately. I guess the more "new" research comes out, the more support there is for what we always knew (some would say "suspected").

Today, we're talking about the "new" research that has linked pesticide use to the occurrence of ADHD. I quote "new" because pesticide use has long been a suspected link to disorders such as ADHD.

For the record, the list of research-backed, possible contributing factors discussed in our seminars over the past ten years includes: undetected/unrecognized "giftedness," sleep issues, emotional issues (including divorce, bullying, academic pressure/anxiety), food sensitivities, digestive disorders, dietary deficiencies, lack of breast feeding, environmental insults (including thimerosal, mercury, lead, aluminum, pesticides, household chemicals/cleaners/detergents, industrial chemicals), electromagnetic radiation (power lines, microwaves, cell phones), overuse of antibiotics, too much television, computers, and video game use, and physical/mental underdevelopment.

Quite the list, huh?

What's more, I, for one, long ago stopped thinking of ADHD as separate and apart from autism spectrum disorders, and I know some researchers also believe that ADHD is a part of the spectrum. Indeed, given the overlap of symptoms, the massive co-morbidity of ADHD and ASD, and the similar rise in the number of cases over time, how can ADHD not be part of the spectrum? And, if it is part, then it must share the same potential causes . . .

Ah, but these thoughts differ greatly from the medical theories (and I say theories, because despite what any doctor says, no one knows what's really causing the problems) that point to genetics and a clear dividing line between ADHD and ASD.

I suppose that on some level it would be nice if ADHD/ASD was purely genetic. Then, no one could be blamed, no fingers will be pointed, no one has to give up anything. If it's genetic, then it's no one's fault.

We wouldn't have to change our lifestyles; we wouldn't have to change our diets; we wouldn't have to give up our microwaves and cell phones; we wouldn't have to get more exercise; we could keep getting all our meds and vaccines; keep our houses clean and our lawns bug and weed free.

Moreover, if it's genetic, and ADHD is a separate animal unto itself, we have FDA approved medications for it's treatment (see my previous posts re: thoughts about medication). There are no such medically approved treatments for autism, however. So, if ADHD is truly a part of ASD, what would be the impact re: medications?

I'm truly afraid it isn't so. By now, pretty much everyone has stopped trying to argue that these disorders are purely genetic or that the horrific rise in diagnoses is due to "better recognition" or "changing definitions." No, even the government is looking for possible environmental causes.

But, here's the rub. At their heart, these disorders are the result of some sort of neurological underdevelopment or impairment. Something in the brain simply did not develop as it should have. Thus, by definition, anything that could ultimately adversely affect neurological development could be a cause. How is anyone to find the single, "this is it," cause?

Worse, the combination of different insults would surely produce far greater harm than the individual insults could. How can one study all the possible combinations?

No, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. All these "disorders," from speech and language delays to ADHD to ASD, are all part of the spectrum, sharing similar causes (and of course, a genetic predisposition to such harm). The resulting diagnosis is nothing more than our poor attempt to specifically label the ultimate degree and manifestation of the harm that has been caused.

Ultimately, we will realize and admit that this explosion of disorders really is some one's fault -- ours, as a society. We truly need to step back, honestly evaluate the safety and impact of all our modern conveniences, medicines, foods, and social environment, and do something about it instead of just relying on a bunch of pills.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Just a note (yes, another one) on meds

Not to beat a dead horse, but, let’s talk about meds for a minute.

Came across an article that states that commonly used, acid-reducing drugs, have some not so good side-effects, including increased risk of bone fractures and interference with digestive flora. Specifically, “[t]he widely used family of acid-reducing drugs … includ[ing] Prilosec, Nexium and Protonix increases the risk of bone fractures by about 25 percent and can more than double the risk of contracting the troublesome bacterium Clostridium difficile.” Acid-reducing drugs increase risk of bone fractures, Newsday (May 10, 2010). Perhaps even more disturbing is that these drugs “have also been shown to increase the risk of pneumonia.”

(Of course, there is a ridiculous disclaimer in the article. For some reason, the article doesn’t place the blame directly on the drugs, but instead, the blame goes to what the drugs do. “The increased risk is not thought to be caused by the drugs themselves, but by the sharply reduced levels of acid in the stomach and intestinal tract, which make the organs a more hospitable environment for infectious agents like C. difficile and which can impair the uptake of the calcium required for strong bones.”

That’s like saying the bullet doesn’t hurt you: it’s the hole in your body left by the bullet that allows the blood to escape…)

Anyway, here’s the point of my bringing this all up. Whenever you mess around with the body, and try to fix one particular issue with any type of powerful medication, inevitably, you mess up other areas. Everything is connected, and time and again, we miss the side-effects of medications with respect to the amazing systems and overall functioning of our bodies and all the intricate, and complicated, connections between such systems and functions. Hence, the push for more holistic, natural approaches.

Now, think about this in the context of the unbelievably potent, psychotropic drugs used on our children in connection with the treatment of such disorders as ADHD. Remember, these drugs are used even though no one is completely sure what causes such disorders, and no one is completed sure how such drugs actually work!

We’re dealing with a developing, human brain here, and the drugs are supposed to be affecting very specific chemicals in our brains. If we can’t get heartburn and our stomachs right....

Monday, May 3, 2010

And they worry about vitamins . . .

There has been a movement afoot by the medical and pharmaceutical industries calling for the strict regulation of the manufacture and sale of vitamins and supplements. The justification offered by the med/pharm industries is that consumers should be assured that what is on the label of such vitamins and supplements is exactly what is in such vitamins and supplements -- nothing more and nothing less. In addition, the med\pharm industry wants to make sure that any health claims on the vitamin and supplement labels are true. And, finally, there is always med\pharm talk about the safety of such vitamins and supplements.

Now, I agree. Vitamins and supplements, like every other product on the market, should be safe, contain what they purport to contain, and do what they purport to do. That's just decency, honesty, and common sense. Likewise, I am sure that in the vitamin and supplement industry, some manufacturers are good, honest companies selling good, honest products, while some companies may not be quite so good or quite so honest -- just like every other industry on this planet. For the most part, whenever we make a purchase, the best we can do is do our research, check reputations, lay our money down and hope that we get that for which we have paid.

But, I have to ask, what is really prompting the push for such regulations, and exactly how effective would such regulation be anyway?

Regarding the first question, let's, for the moment, assume that the altruistic justifications given by the med/pharm industries are true. Is it possible that something else is motivating such a push? Sure. Money.

If vitamins and supplements became subject to regulation, the testing, studies and manufacture of such vitamins and supplements would become prohibitively expensive. Many companies would be forced out of business -- less competition for the drugs made by the pharmaceutical companies and pushed by the medical industry.

Of the companies that remain, the costs of such vitamins and supplements would skyrocket, thereby becoming less attractive than the alternative med/pharm drugs.

Finally, it may actually become cost effective and/or profitable for the med/pharm industry to get in on the vitamin and supplement market big time. With an infrastructure already steeped in regulation, big advertising dollars, and a worldwide distribution network, it may not cost as much for the pharmaceuticals to produce vitamins and supplements, and with the combination of the government's imprimatur supporting such vitamin and supplement content and effectiveness and the inflated costs of such vitamins and supplements, don't you think that "pharmaceutical grade" vitamins and supplements would be a big hit?

Regarding the second question, exactly how effective would such regulation be? Well, with respect to labeling, I'd like everyone to read "Food Politics" by Marion Nestle. You'll discover how the various lobbies in the food industry work the government, its regulator, and its regulations to the point where you can't really tell what's in the box or its healthiness, despite the label!

And, if you follow this blog, I don't need to point out how many "FDA Approved" medicines hurt and even kill people.

But, even on a more basic level, does regulation keep bad stuff out of medicines? Did anyone catch the Johnson & Johnson major recall of children's and infants' Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl? See "Medicines for kids recalled," Newsday at A17 (Sunday, May 2, 2010). Seems that the products were recalled
"in consultation with the FDA after discovering manufacturing deficiencies that could affect the quality, purity or potency of the medicines. The FDA said some of the products many not meet required quality standards.... Some of the products affected by the recall may contain a higher concentration of active ingredient than specified; others contain inactive ingredients that may not meet internal testing requirements; and others may contain tiny particles, the FDA said."

What those "tiny particles" are was not disclosed in the article.

Now, I point this out not only to show that even with regulations, bad stuff can get in, but also note, it apparently was the MANUFACTURER that issued the recall -- NOT the government agency that's supposed to regulate the industry.